LONDON - Independent Media cricket writer Stuart Hess looks at the most important factors from day three of the fourth third Test between England and South Africa at the Old Trafford.
The James Anderson End
“Bowling from the James Anderson End, James Anderson,” went the public address announcer at Old Trafford on Saturday. There were naturally sniggers, and from Anderson himself, a sheepish one. It was a great honour he said to have the old Pavilion End named in his honour, it is as Anderson mentioned not something usually happens while players are still active. The 35-year-old explained how it was surreal that a ground where he first watched cricket as a six-year-old, was now going to have a part named in his honour. “Actually I’ve not had the best luck bowling from that side,” he said. “And it’s going to be awkward when I ask to bowl at (the Statham End) isn’t it?”
Actually Anderson bowled superbly from the End named after him. He may have changed the match decisively when he picked three wickets - Bavuma, Du Plessis and De Bruyn - in a devastating spell. “I felt like I couldn’t bowl badly,” said Anderson. “The atmosphere was fantastic, the crowd are absolutely amazing all day - if well-oiled by the end - and it is a brilliant place to play when it’s like that.”
Agnew winds up Boycott
The BBC Test Match Special’s wind-up of Geoffrey Boycott during the third Test at The Oval last week has been downloaded over six million times since chief ball-by-ball commentator Jonathan Agnew set up the former England opener, who works as an expert analyst. Among the most important players in the set up was SA cricket’s chief statistician Andrew Samson, who has found almost instant fame. Samson was leaving the ground on Saturday when he was surrounded by a group of fans. “Aren’t you the stats man from the Boycott video?” asked some of those ‘well-oiled’ fans Anderson spoke about. Samson, not used to such celebrity status, good naturedly posed for pictures.
On the topic of TMS, the former South African captain Graeme Smith has emerged as one of the stars of the English summer, for his forthright and humorous views. Some of those views haven’t gone down well with former team-mates playing in this series, and at least one has asked for a ‘tete-a-tete’ with his former captain. Meanwhile, asked on air Saturday whether, like Anderson here, he had a stand named in his honour in South Africa, Smith said, no. “We don’t have that sort of thing in South Africa, but I suppose you could say it was named after me when I go and field at cow corner.”
The official programmes on sale for this Test series contains bite sized ‘Q & As' with the match officials. While most of the crew enter into the fun of the interviews - Kumar Dharmasena for instance saying most players forget Law 43, “common sense,” - we’re not sure Aleem Dar has time for much humour. Asked: “What’s the most commonly made mistake by a player where the laws are concerned?” Dar answered: “ Players are pretty good about these things in my experience and nothing springs to mind.” Oh dear.